Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Old School Damage and One-roll Combat

Related to my last post, I was reminiscing about the old damage notation, before they systematically used the XdN abbreviation. 2d6 was noted 2-12, d4+1 was 2-5, etc. I remember it being a bit of a math challenge when I was a kid. But I was thinking, this min-max damage notation could be used in a one-roll combat system (like in Macchiato Monsters, or if you wanted to make your D&D fights much shorter).
"One of us is dead. Maybe both of us."
Everyone loses HP

If you miss your attack, the monster hits you and you take damage equal to the higher value listed in their description. That orc bastard with the 2-7 (d6+1) scimitar wounds you for 7. Ouch. But you're a badass adventurer and you get to scratch him for 4 (your modified damage is d8+3, or 4-11). That actually has a good chance of killing him (assuming your referee has good taste and rolls for her monsters' HP). 

If you hit, your magic sword does kill the orc with its max damage of 11. But fighting subterranean cannibal warriors is exhausting and you still lose 2 HP.

Of course, it's a system that makes strong fighters stronger, but it might be worth a try. Think about it: your combat round would go from four rolls to just one. 75% less rolling and math, who wouldn't want that?

Side notes

How do you handle non reciprocal attacks, like missiles and traps? Well, player characters attacks are the same, except the PC doesn't lose hit points on a miss - maybe just 1 to account for fatigue. Monster attacks can be either rolled by the referee, or they can call for a save.

Critical hits could be a choice: either do more damage or take none from the opponent. Maybe throw a couple more options in the mix: break melee, trip your opponent, set up an ally for advantage next round, etc.

I'm thinking a system like this might need ablative armour... maybe? That would depend on what the odds of hitting are (do you use THAC0 or roll under?) and the overall hit points progression.
"I need you to start rolling better, okay?"
 In conclusion
It is really just an idea. I might try it if I was to run B/X or OD&D, but I'm too busy at the moment with Lunchtime Dungeons to pursue it further.  If you do, drop me a note!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Accidental Comments Annihilation

I was wondering why no one commented on my posts, like ever. But this morning I noticed that two comments on yesterday's posts were showing on mobile Chrome, and nowhere else. Then I saw that the back office showed several comments (sometimes dozens!) on the most recent posts.

Turns out the G+ integration feature was messing with the blog, because no one at Google gives the tiniest of fucks.

I turned it off, and guess what: everything is gone.

I'll never know how much of this traffic was spam, or what interesting conversations I missed while looking like a smug arsehole who never gets involved.

No, really: thank you, Google.

Guess I'll make time to export everything to a Wordpress install before the roof collapses on our heads.

EDIT: Well it's not working at all right now. I can't post comments on my own blog. I'd noticed that one or two of my comments on other people's blogs never showed up, but unless I'm missing something this is a widespread disease on Blogger. I would ask you for feedback but... Hahaha. 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Thinking about Hit Dice

For multiple reasons (one of them being my incorrigible tinkering tendencies) I keep refining the way Lunchtime Dungeons handles damage. Hit points are gone and gutted, but I want to keep hit dice. I  think hit dice can be a fun mechanic.

"I thought I'd always be given a chance to avoid combat?" (D. Trampier)
Currently: the Wounds System

This is how I've been running damage after the system I was using proved to be inelegant over the Christmas playtest.

Characters have the one hit die, d4 to d12 depending on class and progression. For simplicity's sake, damage in Lunchtime Dungeons is a fixed number. A long sword does 6 damage, an musket 10, a dagger 3. A modified attack roll of 20 or more doubles that. Note that I've kept hit points for monsters. Fights can be over very quickly if the players are lucky.

Damage is measured in wounds. You die if you have more wounds than your level. Every time you are hit, you roll your hit die. If the result is equal or over the damage, you're fine. Not even a scratch. If you don't, you take a wound and we look at the difference (damage minus HD result) on this table:
1-2: Maybe a scar
3-4: Painful blow. Save to stay conscious
5: Bleeding. Roll your HD, you will take another wound in that many turns. Keep doing this until bandaged or healed.
6-7: Lose something, -d on some tasks. Roll d6: 1. Fingers (d4); 2. Hand; 3. Nose; 4. Ear; 5. Eye; 6. Looks.
8: Leg useless. Save to keep it when healed. Can't run. -d on agility tasks
9: Arm useless. Save to keep it when healed. -d when needing both arms or if it was the dominant hand
10-11: Head wound. -d on all rolls. Save or lose 1 prepared spell
12: Dead man walking, 1 turn + Constitution roll to live
13+: Vital organs destroyed, instant death
You recover wounds with healing magic and rest.

This version is highly lethal, as even a high level fighter with a HD of d12 can roll a 1 and be insta-killed (a mere mace does 7 damage, and a crit is always a possibility). I like it on paper, but I'm only human and I'd be heartbroken if the badass Viking lady in our campaign got offed that way.

"I knew I'd roll a 1 sooner or later" (M. Gröber)
The Hit Dice Pool System

Another way would be to dump the wounds. Instead, I'd give characters a pool of hit dice - one per level makes sense, maybe with a maximum number of dice that depends on class.

Whenever you're hit, you roll as many HD as you want and add the results together to beat the damage (still a fixed number). The hit dice are then lost. When you're out of dice, any damage taken kills you unless you make a CON or WIS save (your choice).

The wounds table above is optional. You can play a lighter game where it's all flesh wounds until you drop if that's what you're into. I like my combat gritty and dangerous, so I would keep using it (maybe tweaked a little to make sure it's worth rolling a single d4 against a battle axe or blunderbuss).

You recover your HD with magic and rest. I might use the 5E rule: get back a number of dice equal to half your level for a night's rest.

Now that's on paper, I do like this better. As a player, you have more control over your health as a resource. A mid-level fighter can pretty much guarantee they'll get out of the first scrap unharmed, but they'll have to be careful after that. Also, this doesn't introduce another concept in a game that's supposed to be light and beginner friendly.

Any thoughts, or should I go edit my manuscript and print out yet another batch of character sheets?

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Using the classic stats as skills in Lunchtime Dungeons

More controversial hackery from the Irish frog! Well, I need to think about this, and no one's forcing you to read my internet brain.
Seriously, fuck this guy

The Context

For months now, I've been on the fence about a skill like mechanic in Lunchtime Dungeons. I need to keep the game simple and beginner friendly, following principles like always roll high and no modifiers to rolls, but I cant decently get rid of things like the dwarf's underground lore, the cleric's smite & turn, or (obviously) the thief's skulduggery.

Let me be clear: I don't think skills killed the game back in '75, but I don't want them to go out of hand. And when I find myself writing stuff like 'Gain pastry chef d8' in the haubitz's progression table, it's clearly out of hand.

The Attempt

So I'm going to try and use the six stats as skills. I should mention at this point that LD doesn't use stats at all for the sake of simplicity. But I'm kind of pleased about having these iconic words on the character sheet again.

The system is simple. Skills are a die, from d4 to d12 (with most classes starting with d6), and you need a 4 to succeed. I don't intend to write rules on difficulties and target numbers, but I'm sure I'll ask for a 3 or a 5 here and there. 
Strength to carry, break down, break free
Intelligence to understand, recall, memorise
Wisdom to will, perceive, feel
Dexterity to dodge, sneak, manipulate
Constitution to resist, whether, endure
Charisma to lead, bullshit, persuade
I'm only giving one skill to each human class. Strength to fighters, Intelligence to wizards, Wisdom to clerics, Dexterity to thieves. There is even room for a barbarian and a warlock or bard (but additional places aren't my priority).

The demihumans have two conditional skills: the dwarf gets Wisdom d6 and Intelligence d6 when underground; the haubitz has Constitution d6 to resist fatigue and Dexterity d6 to hide; and for the elf I'll go with Charisma d6 to impress and Intelligence d6 for ancient lore. I know what you're thinking: he's introducing complexity just two minutes after pledging to KISS. Hey, it's a work in progress.

Another thought while I'm at it: these six dice are probably going to be renamed feats. So you roll a feat of Strength to lift that gate, or a feat of Charisma to sway Old Pigface into betraying the goblin enchantress. 
A work in progress, I'm telling you

The Bonus

This is where I think this might end up working somewhat elegantly. As per the master rule in Lunchtime Dungeons, you only roll a skill die if a task doesn't put you at risk. If there is a chance of you or others being harmed, you have to save. Saves are rolled with a d20 plus a skill die against a target number. (This is also how I handle combat - characters have a basic attack skill and can get weapons skills along the line.)

EDIT: Following some useful comments by Brian and Bruno on G+, I thought I should add that the d20 save comes with a range of results that let me describe various degrees of success and failure, offer choices, take away resources, etc. Here is the table I use: 
click to avoid damaging your eyeballs
Until now, characters only had one save die. Well now they have six. But they don't have a fuzzy cloud of skills.

So, win?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Using the hit die as a soak damage mechanic in Adventure TTRPG

Two of my goal designs for Lunchtime Dungeons are: simple procedures for shorter sessions and deadly combat. With that in mind, I'm going to test the following hack. I'm open to thoughts and suggestions.
Pathetic aesthetic by Jim Holloway
  1. Damage is a fixed number (the max damage of the weapon). A modified 20 on the attack roll doubles it. Monsters (and maybe fighters?) add their HD to that. So a goblin with a club would do 7 damage, and a vampire with a greatsword would do 17.
  2. Characters have 2d6 Stamina* and one hit die**, ranging from d8 (fighters) to nothing (wizards). They get to subtract their HD from each blow, and the remaining damage is deducted from their Stamina. 0 Stamina means a roll on the death & dismemberment table.
  3. Monsters lose hit points as normal. I'm going to use d10s for hit dice so that some goblins can withstand a blow from a long sword.

 * You can use Constitution in your six-stats game.
** I'll probably rename it to Soak Die or something.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

d66 exploration and encounter table for The Lost City

Here's a thing I'm playtesting for Lunchtime Dungeons.
(Click the pic.)

The exploration procedure has been working pretty smoothly for a few months now, but I was inspired by a peek Luka Rejec gave us of his d100 event-slash-encounter table a while ago. Earlier inspiration comes from the Hazard System by Brendan S and some parallel thinking by David Black and Chris McDowall a couple years ago (which had prompted me to work on the same kind of table for Macchiato Monsters).
[/namedrop]

(Yeah, I made an HTML joke. I'm not feeling well today, okay?)

So for the next while I'll be dropping the 2d6+1d6 random encounter model and try this thing out. The monsters are from level 1 of B4: The Lost City because that's what I'm running this week. In your game, BOD points can be treated as hits or CON/STR, depending on how easy it is to recover HP.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Neon Marsh is in alpha

It took me a while, but I've completed the text of the first setting for Macchiato Monsters. It's not something I had planned to do from the start, but I hit a snag with the Build-your-own-setting booklets so when Paolo suggested a mini-setting to support the release of MM, I thought I could use the tools I intend to put in said booklets to create something. So here it is:

(quick and dirty homemade cover - proper art will be properly arted by proper artists)
I took some chances with this. It's ten pages, including the cover and three one-page dungeons, so it is very terse. The world material is presented alphabetically, which may not be the best way to communicate it. And there are a lot of holes to fill in, DIY style. We'll see what reviewers say.

In any case,  I had a lot of fun inserting as many 1980s sci-fi references into a pseudo-Arthurian plotline. Here is an extract from the introduction - well it's about half of it. Told you it was terse.
The Neon Marsh lies south of the island of Freetannia, a fragmented kingdom whose folk forgot their past glory. People toil in the service or war dukes and petty kings, while bards still sing the prophecy of the Queen of Future Pasts, who shall unite the land again. People come to the Marsh running from the law, mining for NEON, or looking to understand the weird phenomena called GLITCH.
That's one thing off my plate for a little while. Next up: Ford's Fairies, aka the Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project.